El Chapo's long-awaited trial kicked off Tuesday (Nov. 13) in federal district court in NY, but it was briefly delayed due to an "anxious and upset" juror who brought a doctor's note to court in an effort to help get her removed from the case.
The defense calls the motion "entirely without merit".
"He's blamed for being the leader while the real leaders are living freely and openly in Mexico", Jeffrey Lichtman told Brooklyn federal court.
Zambada, he alleged, bribed everybody, "including the very top, the current president of Mexico and the former", he added in reference to Mexico's outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto and his predecessor, Felipe Calderon.
His arrest and extradition to New York City shook up Mexico's drug underworld and remains a big story there.
Guzman is accused of leading the Sinaloa cartel and turning it into the largest criminal organization on the planet.
The high-security trial of infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman got underway on Tuesday, with a prosecutor telling jurors how the man who got his start in a modest marijuana-selling business in Mexico ruthlessly turned it into a blood-drenched smuggling operation that funneled cocaine and other drugs as far north as NY.
In the confines of a NY federal courtroom, he now faces charges relating to drug trafficking, money laundering and firearms.
He said Guzman shipped so much cocaine into the United States that every citizen would have their own "line" of it. Her husband, 63, has been in solitary confinement and barred from seeing her to stop him passing messages to cohorts since his extradition to the United States a year ago.
The notorious Mexican drug lord known as "El Chapo" is being tried in New York City amid intense security measures.
More than 200,000 people have been killed - many in cartel feuds - since the Mexican government sent troops in to take on the drug gangs in 2006.
An email written by a USA agent who eavesdropped on Guzman for a year wrote, "Chapo was more of a myth than an actual legend", and that he was "not impressed" by him, the lawyer added.
Guzman was known to carry a gold-plated AK-47 assault rifle and a diamond-encrusted pistol, though he was guarded by a near-army of enforcers and cartel assassins.
The defense denied Guzman was a drug kingpin.
If convicted, Guzman faces a minimum of life in prison and a possible forfeiture of some $14 billion.
They contend that he ordered or committed at least 33 homicides.
Some of the cooperators will "tell you he has no money", Lichtman said.
Emma Coronel, the wife of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, arrives for his trial in Brooklyn federal court, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in NY.
Prosecutors promised to discuss "this global narco empire in his own words" and from witnesses detailing how he would receive $10 million from a single shipment of cocaine.
The prosecutors' witnesses are expected to include former Guzman associates who are now co-operating with the U.S. government in exchange for more favourable treatment.
He escaped from Mexican prisons twice - once in 2001 by hiding in a laundry bin and again in 2015 through a mile-long tunnel dug under the shower in his jail cell.